“This is not a fluke.” -Theo (Memphis ’09)
During our opening dinner program tonight, Theo told the story of a student who taught him his reason for being in Memphis. “This is not a fluke,” he explained to myself and the roughly 170 other incoming 2012 corps members. Each of us is meant to be in Memphis right now, engaging in this work, because we have the potential to be changed by our students just as much as we hope to change them for the better. While I haven’t yet stepped into a classroom or found a group of students to call “my kids,” I can sense that I’m right where I need to be. As overwhelming as the logistics may be right now, I believe in this work and I believe in my ability to eventually find great meaning in Memphis.
I did a little happy clap when I drove over the Mississippi River and into Memphis yesterday. I’m here. In my new SOUTHERN! home for the next two years, and the drive only took 7 hours and 45 minutes (take that Google Maps!). Right now it’s a bit of a flashback to college. Multi-step registration, checking into a residence hall, meeting my roommate. I also came down with an annoying head cold today, much like how I had strep throat during my college orientation. Apparently I like to make a first impression as the sickly girl. The questions are familiar to college, too. Hi, I’m Erin! What’s your name? Where are you from? What are you…What did you study? That’s where it get’s interesting. There’s suddenly a new standard question. Where did you go to undergrad? I realize that that question now has great weight for me because Cleveland and CWRU feel as much like home as my hometown. Since we are all here with the common purpose of becoming teachers, “what’s your placement?” is the new “what’s your major?”
Speaking of placement…when it rains, it pours. I have multiple interviews lined up for this week, which is really exciting. I accepted my admission to the corps what seems like ages ago (actually second deadline, just before Thanksgiving), so having the big unknown of the actual school I’ll be working at is slightly anxiety-producing. Thankfully, I’m not the only one in this boat, and it’s not even uncommon to not be placed right now. In a typical job situation, I’d be feeling pretty in control because I have so many options that I can really go for the best fit. All of the kids in these striving districts require hardworking teachers, so Teach For America stipulates that corps members accept their first job offer. So before I pat myself on the back for being “desired” by many principals and able to be competitive, I’m going to relinquish control (gasp! I know, right?) and know that no matter the timeline and perceived success of each interview or my initial impressions, I’ll end up at the school that is right for me. If it happened with undergrad, it can happen again. This is not a fluke.